JaMychal Green will start at the power forward position for the Grizzlies, nudging Zach Randolph to the bench, Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal reports (Twitter links). Green’s placement into the starting lineup almost surely indicates he will make the team. His contract is only partially guaranteed for $200K this season, but his whole salary worth roughly $980K will become guaranteed on January 1, according to Bobby Marks of The Vertical (Twitter link).
Randolph has been a regular starter for Memphis since coming to the team in 2009. The 35-year-old understands the change and is putting the team first, as Tillery passes along (Twitter links). “I’m fine with it. You know how I am. Whatever is best for the team,” Randolph said.
New Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale reportedly told Z-Bo that he’s not going to be paid to be a starter anymore, Tillery relays (Twitter link). “Let’s audition you for what you can be for the rest of your career,” Fizdale said. The power forward will make roughly $10.36MM in the last year of his deal before becoming eligible for free agency next summer. That figure is currently fourth on the team.
Randolph had a nice season last year, but the move is more about the evolving NBA than it is with the level of his play. Having two traditional big men on the floor for long stretches isn’t a recipe for success anymore.
The move is also about the Grizzlies trying to manufacture some offense out of their thin bench unit. Without plucking Randolph from the starting lineup, Memphis’ second unit could have been the worst of any team in the league with serious playoff aspirations. Rookie Wade Baldwin may not be ready to play meaningful minutes. New addition Troy Daniels should be solid, but can he be the team’s sixth man? Can a 39-year-old Vince Carter still make plays? How consistent will James Ennis be on a night-to-night basis? The team surely hopes a few contributors emerge in its second unit, but it doesn’t look all that dangerous on paper.
Moving Randolph to the second unit ensures the team will have a least one player on the court who can create some offense once the starters hit the pine. Randolph is willing to do whatever is takes to win. He’s a fan favorite in Memphis and part of the reason is his dedication to the team. “If Coach [Fizdale] wants me to play 10 minutes, I’ll come in and play the hardest 10 minutes,” Randolph said.